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Asos praised for disabled-friendly clothes

Chloe Ball-Hopkins modelling for Asos Image copyright Asos

Asos has been praised for selling clothes designed with people who have disabilities in mind.

The online retailer has released a tie-dye waterproof jumpsuit for festival season, which has been adapted to be wheelchair friendly.

It was designed in collaboration with GB Paralympic hopeful Chloe Ball-Hopkins, who also modelled it for the site.

Chloe says she wants to make "fashion that is accessible to everybody".

The collaboration came about through a single email sent to Asos by Chloe, who's also a BBC Bristol sports reporter as well as an athlete.

She's currently training for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics after an injury stopped her competing in archery in Rio two years ago.

"To see the final product I can't believe that we actually worked in conjunction so much. I thought maybe they'd take it and run with it," Chloe says.

"You get the same version whether it's you or I buying it - that's the point. It is exactly the same for me as it is for you."

People have reacted excitedly to the release and to seeing Chloe model it in her wheelchair.

Gurls Talk, an online community founded by model Adwoa Aboah, praised it for challenging "the stigma around disabilities".

Chloe had the idea for the jumpsuit after getting soaked at Splendour Festival last year left her looking, as she told her boyfriend, "like you've taken your gran out of the care home for a day".

It features a zip around the waist so that despite being an all-in-one it's easy to get in and out of, and also means people can choose to wear just the top or the bottoms.

Chloe says the ankles are cuffed, "so not only is that good for people with different heights, it also means it's easy to put wellies on."

It's also got a waterproof pocket on the breast: "Whether that's to put your phone in, or you've got medication or information you need to have on you in case of emergency, you can have it on you and know that it can stay dry," the 21-year-old says.

"It was just literally those little tiny details that make the difference to people like me.

"We don't want to have to look like we're just doing practicality, we still want to be able to look fashionable."

Asos has been praised before for choosing models that represent groups often not seen in fashion.

Chloe was born with no hips and her feet twisted up to her shins, and although she's had surgery to change that she still has to use a wheelchair most of the time.

She was also diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy - a muscle wasting disease with no cure - aged four.

Chloe says being in a wheelchair can be difficult in-store.

She feels online is a good alternative, but still comes with its own issues.

"It's hard to see a product on a model if you don't see yourself reflected in it," Chloe says.

Disability charity Scope says it's "great to see big brands like Asos tapping into the disabled consumer market".

"Disabled people and their families in the UK have an enormous spending power - dubbed the 'Purple Pound' - of £250bin a year," says James Taylor, head of policy and public affairs.

"We hope moves like this will lead the way for other businesses, challenging attitudes towards disability to open fashion up for everyone."

It's not the first time Asos has included a model who has a disability in a campaign.

Back in January it featured Mama Cax, a model who had her leg amputated, in one of its activewear campaigns.

Big brands like Nike have previously created footwear for people with disabilities, while Tommy Hilfiger recently collaborated with Runway of Dreams - a foundation set up to make fashionable clothing more accessible - on a line specifically for disabled people.

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